I am doubtless that the most misunderstood Biblical doctrine in contemporary Christendom is that which concerns law and grace. It’s surely understandable, esp. early in the Christian lives of most believers, that what God had done with the nation of Israel He is now doing with the rest of the world, but in the light of the cannon of Scripture, the dispensations of His will are revealed “at various times and in various ways” (Heb 1:1) and it is in this where the responsibility of the believer is to continuously seek the Holy Spirit’s (1 Cor 2:13) instruction.
I can clearly recall the times when the Ten Commandments were posted in places like the grade-school classrooms and little did I know (as is presently the case with many) they were given only to the nation of Israel in the pre-Cross dispensation and were never intended for any other peoples.
Just in mentioning, I hope you choose to view the daily readings from the "None but the Hungry Heart" anthology. They are always brief and they are, in my opinion, the flagship of all the materials Miles J Stanford has compiled; from who is where I get all of the materials I share. Since his method of compilation involved numerous Biblical authors (circa 17-1800’s), his materials are well established in the Word of God.
FYI - The purchase of any materials are at cost: mjsbooks.com.
Daily devotional anthology: http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/day/2013/08/07/
Rule Of Life Ruled Out
There are many pious souls throughout the Church who conscientiously believe that the only possible way to produce obedience, to attain practical holiness, to secure a godly walk, to keep our evil nature in order, is to put Christians under the law. They seem to fear that if souls are taken from under the school-master, with its rod and rudiments, there is an end to a moral order. To them, the only possible alternative to law is lawlessness (antinomianism).
If you would know the ground, character, and objet of Christian obedience, you must simply listen to the voice of the Word of God. And what does it say? Does it send us back to Moses, to teach us how to live? Does it put us under the law, to keep the flesh in order? No. The Holy Spirit declares, in the simplest and most emphatic manner, that believers are not under law. “For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under law, but grace” (Rom 6:14).
How can holy living be promoted by removing the very foundation of Christianity? How could indwelling sin be subdued by putting us under the very system that gave sin power over us (“the law is the strength of sin” – 1 Cor 15:56—NC)? How could Christian obedience ever be produced by flying in the face of Holy Scripture? Surely a divine end can only be gained by pursuing a divine way. Now the Father’s way of giving us deliverance from the dominion of sin is by delivering us from under law; and hence all those who teach that Christians are under law are plainly at issue with God; a tremendous consideration for all who desire to be teachers of the law!
If we were under law, sin would have dominion over us. Indeed, we invariably find, in the Word, that “sin,” “law” and “flesh” are linked together. The soul under law cannot enjoy deliverance from the dominion of sin (it would again be under trial, which the believer is not—NC); and in this we see the fallacy of the whole legal system, and the utter delusion of seeking to produce holy living by putting souls under the law. It is simply putting them into the very place where sin can lord it (law—NC) over them, and rule them with absolute sway. All true believers “are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married (Bride—NC) to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom 7:4).
Paul does not say the law is dead (the Mosaic Law has its origin from “the law of sin and death” – Rom 8:2 – which has its origin in Gen 2:17; the Jew was under both laws but now the sole remaining law is that of sin and death, under which all unbelievers still reside—NC). The law is not dead, but we are dead to it. We have passed, by our death with Christ, out of the sphere to which the law belongs. He took our place; He was made under the law, and on the Cross, He was made to be sin for us. But He died for us, and we died in Him; and He has thus taken us clear out of the position in which we were under the dominion of sin and law, and introduced us into an entirely new position, in living association and union with Himself, so that it can be said, “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
Is the glorified Lord Jesus Christ under law? Assuredly not! Then neither are we. Has sin any claim upon Him? None whatever! Neither has it upon us. We are, as to our position, as He is in the presence of the Father; and therefore to put us back under law would be a complete overturning of the Christian position. In the Lord Jesus we are forever delivered from the terrible system in which the prominent figures are, “Flesh,” “Law,” “Sin,” “Death”—a melancholy group, most surely!—and we are brought into that glorious scene in which the prominent figures are, “Life,” “Liberty,” “Grace,” “Peace,” “Righteousness,” Holiness,” “Glory” and “Christ.”
But some may still feel disposed to ask, “Is there not a danger of unholy laxity and lawlessness if the restraining power of the law is removed?” To this we reply, “God is wiser than we are.” He knows best how to cure disobedience and rebellion, and how to produce the right sort of obedience. He used the law to prove man’s enmity against Him. It worked wrath; it caused the offense to abound (Rom 5:20); it developed “the motions of sins”; it brought death; it was the strength of sin; it deprived the sinner of all power; it slew him (Rom 7:11); it was condemnation; it cursed all who had to do with it. “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse”; and all this, not because of my defect in the law, but because of man’s total inability to keep it.
One who walks in the Spirit—as every believer should—fulfills the righteousness of the law. Love is the fulfilling of the law; and love will lead us to do what the Ten Commandments could never effect, namely, to love our enemies. No love of holiness, no advocate of practical righteousness, need ever be the least afraid of losing aught by abandoning the legal ground, and taking his position on the elevated ground of true Christianity—by turning from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion—by passing from Moses to the Lord Jesus. No; he only reaches a higher source, a deeper spring, a wider sphere of holiness, righteousness and practical obedience to the Father.
All of the realm of law must be completely abandoned by those whose privilege it is to walk in the light of the new creation; who know the Lord Jesus as their righteousness, their sanctification, their all in all, their very Christian life (Gal 2:20; Col 3:4). They find their motive for obedience, not in the fear of the curses of a broken law (though many early on understandably have—NC) but in the nature and life of the Lord Jesus—“Who died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live into themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again” (2 Cor 5:15).
It is possible that anyone who has ever tasted, even in the very feeblest measure, the heavenly sweetness of the grace of God, can accept the wretched mongrel system, composed of half law and half grace, which so much of the Church offers to the soul? How sad to find the children of the Father—the Bride of the Bridegroom—temple of the Holy Spirit—robbed of their glorious privileges, and burdened with an intolerable yoke, which, as Peter says, “Neither we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10).
Search the Scriptures; and if you find these things to be so, then fling aside forever the grave-cloths in which you have been bound, and walk and run in the liberty wherewith the Lord Jesus makes His own free; tear off the bandage with which it covers the eyes of men, and gaze upon the moral glories which shine with such heavenly brilliance in the Gospel of the grace of God.
And then let us prove, by a holy, happy, gracious walk and conversation that grace can do, what the law never could. Let our practical ways from day to day, in the midst of the scenes, circumstances, relationships and associations in which we are called to live, be the most convincing reply to all who contend for the law as their rule of life.
Finally, let it be our earnest, loving desire and aim to seek, insofar as in us lies, to lead all the dear children of the Father into a clearer knowledge of their position and privileges in the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ. May He send out His light and His truth, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and gather His beloved ones around Himself, to walk in the joy (freedom of guiltlessness—NC) of His salvation, in the purity and light of His presence, and to wait for His coming.
- C H Mackintosh